Sunday, August 09, 2009

Bad Only Girl?

It has been my observation that the worst behaved children tend to be female only children or only-girl-in-the-family.

Now, before you throw a rod, let me say this is NOT a random bash of little girls or onlies.  Many many only girls are well-behaved (I know quite a few) and many larger families boys and girls are terrors.  I'm just relating my own observations which began early: I myself am a female only child.

I think the badly behaved girls stem from parenting by a mom who "always wanted a little girl" since they were little girls.  They want to dress her up like a doll and be her best, best friend.  The bad ones are heavily overindulged and raised as equals, not children.  They think very highly of themselves.  Like many onlies, they socialise more with adults and so are overly mature in dealing with grown-ups.

Daddy helps, too: Bad Only Girl is his little princess to be doted on and allowed to do just as she pleases and get away with almost everything.

This produces a child who is supremely self-centered and demanding of her own way (they call this "strong willed" now.  I still call it "needs me to go pick a switch".)

This child, if she's smart, might very well be a super successful businesswoman / politician / entrepreneur, after all she's used to demanding her own way and getting it. 

"Wait a second, Blue," you say, "that doesn't sound so bad!  I'd like my daughter to be a powerful woman on Wall Street or president of a University!"

I agree.  Me, too. But, Bad Only Girl, is obnoxious no matter where she ends up. She wants everything just so (to her taste), she is Bridezilla, and that pushy, type-A district superviser at your office.  She's that forum member or blogger who rips everyone to shreds (she'll call herself "outspoken" and "opinionated" and "honest".  The rest of us call her "that damned bitch, I hate her".)

Worst of all she is smugly unapologetic about it.

Every bully I have ever known was a female only or the only girl child.  All the overweight girls (and there were v. few back in the way-back time) that I can recall were onlies or only girl children in the family.  Of the dozens of moms I know IRL or on line, the small number who cosistantly report behaviour in their own children that sets my teeth on edge - things that are absolutely verboten in my house - ALL of them are raising only girls.*

"So, hang about, Blue," you say, "You said that you were an only girl. Are you describing yourself, here?"

Yep.  I am.

I had to, as an adult, UNlearn self-centerdness. I had to teach myself how to think about other people, be nice, have some consideration.  Fortunately, it's my belief that we should all be good to each other and that what goes around, comes around.  But it took not having any friends and realising that I didn't have the education or the looks to carry the attitude and that being a good person was infinately easier and more satisfying.

So, what's up with all the Bad Only Girls?  Am I being unfair and judging these kids harshly?  Or am I a Horrible Little Girl Magnet?

Let me share with you what happened at the thrift store yesterday:

It was Bitty and Bulk's turn to go with me and we were looking through the shoes when Mom and Daughter came in.  The child, a bit older than mine, perhaps 9, immediately began running down the length of the thrift store, back and forth. She rummaged through the toys, throwing several on the floor (which she left), and calling loudly to her mother ("Momma, Momma, look, look at this, Momma look at this rabbit, mom, MOM!") every few seconds (who never failed to acknowledge her self centered look-at-me drivel).

She came pelting into the shoe room just as Bitty was pointing out shoes to me, and walked right up to us.

Bitty: "These green ones are cute, Momma,"
Me: "Which ones, baby?"
Bad Only Girl (grabbing a random green shoe and shoving it right under my nose): "I think she means these!"
Bitty (frowning): "No. These."
Me (searching vainly for BOG's mother, or, maybe, a switch): "Oh, those are terribly frou-frou, not my style!"
BOG: (*guffaw* sprint from room)

In all the obnoxious little twit shoved me aside once, shove both Bulk and Bitty, and trod on my toe, not once, but twice (and she was overweight, so that wasn't pleasant). She snatched toys from my children, ran about, and kept up the constant mindless pay-attention-to-me chatter with her mother.

Bulk and Bitty were not too disturbed (well Bitty was slightly. Her Autism causes her to dislike loud, boisterous people or situations - too much stimulous - but she copes well). They are used, by now, to the fact that most children are NOT like them. Most children don't speak and walk quietly; they whine and throw fits, run indoors, shout, shove, and fail to say excuse me or please or thank you. 

So, since they weren't bugged, I wasn't too bugged, but it did get me thinking and recalling all of the very worst kids I've ever known and how many seemed to be Bad Only Girls.  I don't want my girls to be bitches.  You can be a strong woman with opinions - and voice them - and still be kind. Sorry, but it's true.  You can be polite and sweet and yet steadfast and honest.

I'm trying to teach my baby girls (and my boys, too, of course) that you can't always get what you want (sing it with me, go on). That they are NOT the center of the universe or more deserving or special than everyone else.  I think that's what happens with these girls, I think mom makes them the glittering jewel in the center of the family crown.

And why? Did these women always want a sister?  A best friend? So they end up making their own and letting her do whatever she wants?  Do they want a living baby doll they can dress, shape, mold, and play with?  Do they feel guilty because the girl is the only one and so feel they should indulge her every whim and be her playmate and best buddy?  Do moms of only boys not tend to do this because they don't do "boy things" (like play with cars)?

Chime in in the comments and let me know what you think!  Have you noticed this Bad Only Girl thing or am I just out of whack?  Were you and only or an only girl? What do you remember about the horrible girls you knew as a kid?

*disclaimer: I seem to know a disproportionately large number of ladies whose children consist of just one girl child, so the number who seem to be Bad Only Girls is teensy. Most seem to be doing a jam-up job of raising sensible young ladies.

PS:  And what's up with the Instant Mom-ing? Moms of horrible kids will see mine and suddenly feel compelled to try to correct theirs. This mom of the BOG in the thrift store said, ineffectually, a few times "Brit'Nee, say 'excuse me'" or "Brit'Nee help pick up" (when I had my 4 and 5 year olds tidy all the toys BOG had hurled onto the floor of the toy room).  The child ignored her entirely.

Honey, if you haven't been doing any parenting up till now, this ain't gonna work!

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 9:38 am   5 comments


At 2:31 pm, Blogger The SCD girl said...

Well, I can't say it's ALL girls, but I do have one girl story, and one girl/boy story.

The girl (let's say Janice) was in my son's swimming class. She seemed to be the oldest of two girls.

Janice would not get in the pool. She would not do as she was told. She would hang out by the railing instead of by the wall. Every time h face got wet, she would run up the stairs to dry it on the towel. She participated, briefly.

The second day of class, she whined to her mother about how she didn't want to go in the pool. The mother tried to console her. Janice was having none of it.

Then, her mother went to the swim instructor and told her Janice just wasn't feeling well. They went home.

I was incredulous. I said, "Wouldn't you think, at a basic swim class, you would just tell the instructor that she didn't want to go in?"

I mean, she can't be the first kid in the history of the world to not want to go into the pool.

The third day, Janice threw a bigger fit. An older male was with her, presumably to help "control" her, which didn't seem to do anything except escalate her tantrum. This time, she was forcibly picked up by the older male, and she kicked and screamed.

She had to be at least seven years old. I was astonished at this display.

My son is six and has autism and you can bet your behind he would never act like that.

Again, she would not get into the pool. She whined and cried and carried on like someone was going to kill her.

One of the instructors got her into the pool, and she immediately ran off and up the stairs out of the pool again.

This went on pretty much every day for the entire two weeks. Her mother completely failed to control her behavior at every turn. It was completely embarrassing, and I could hardly blame the child -- clearly her mother had let her get away with pretty much everything her whole life.

The other experience I had was with a mother and her two hellions at a McDonald's play area. My husband had just taken my son out to wash his hands. The kids were screaming at the top of their lungs -- and at those indoor play areas, you could break glass at the volume, I swear.

Anyway, five minutes before that I called up to him, "Clark, let's go -- I can't take this anymore." I don't think mom got the hint.

So while I was there waiting for my family to come back, the mother finally said something to her children. In a sing-song, whiny voice, she said, "[Name], can we go now? I'm ti-ired."

My eyeballs just about fell out of my head.

I'm very proud that my child is so well behaved. Autism or no, he's a good kid.

At 9:49 pm, Blogger Michelle said...

Non-parenting and insta-parenting is *scary* true, yikes! I'd be honored to see your kids out in public, Blue. You're SO not the only one who feels children need to be truly parented and we are not here to be their friends until they're adults. I call my ex-husband a "pansy parent" because he has done virtually nothing when our boys, who live with him, have had behavioral issues (such as my youngest, about to be a senior, feeling that a D is an acceptable grade because it's "passing"). Fortunately neither of them have been kids who ran around nuts in stores with either of us but they knew I did expect more of them than their dad did.

"Needs me to go pick a switch" is hilarious! Too bad it's so true.

Spot on as always, Blue!

At 3:04 pm, Blogger RobertPlantFan said...

I'm an only girl. I am the only girl of an only girl. AND I am only one of two children ever on my mom's side of the family from the group of five siblings that constituted my grandmothers' family. Yeah, there was doting.

But the behavior you described would NEVER have been tolerated. My folks didn't even tolerate it from various relatives' kids. Yes, my folks always treated me like a little adult but I was also expected to behave well. I spent most of my life around adults, lived in neighborhoods with few if any other kids. My folks never reflected their longings for any type of lifestyle on me. They were, and are, encouraging and down to earth people who still don't tolerate bad behavior from children, even if they belong to the neighbors.

I've always gotten the "oh, you're an only child? You must be spoiled rotten!" routine. I've always hated that.

At 9:58 am, Blogger Tilly Cat & Pip-Squeak said...

Hmmm, I don't know... It could be luck of the draw. Around here, I see a lot more badly behaved only (or first born) boys, because "boys will be boys." So they scream, they snatch, they push etc. The girls I meet tend to be a bit more mature. (Princessified in appearance but not in behaviour!)

As for insta-parenting, I know what you mean... But I can see how it happens some times. For example, I think my kids are very well behaved. They don't have any behaviours that *I* think are inappropriate, and I do enforce boundaries and rules that matter in our family. But some times, we may be with another family, and my kids will do something that's no big deal in our house, but the same issue will not be allowed to the other children... Then I'll take my cue and try to correct the behaviour in my kids, so as not to undermine what the other mother is telling *her* children. Does that make sense? Things like getting up from the table before you're done eating, or jumping on beds come to mind. Of course, mine are 4 and 2... I don't know what I'd think if a 9 year old was nehaving worse than my 4 year old!

At 11:25 pm, Anonymous Her_Dad said...

Only girl or not, I think you turned out well (no thanks to my parenting skills -- I was a child myself). I'm proud of you.


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